Thirty en plein air artists from around the region descended on Wrightsville Beach Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-11, to capture scenes around the island for the inaugural Wrightsville Beach Museum of History en plein air art show and wet paint sale.
Early Friday morning, painters including Christopher Reid, Tesh Parakh and Sue Bark set up their easels to begin working.
Reid, who recently returned to the area, was located just east of the Kenan Creek Bridge, looking out onto the marsh in the heart of Harbor Island. Reid said he did not have a plan where he would paint.
“I didn’t plan ahead where I was going to paint because the light changes all the time so I wanted to go with what was good at the moment,” Reid said. “The sun was just coming up. I got that on there before it changed too much.”
While many of his contemporaries would choose to paint with oils, Reid said he enjoyed using pastels and watercolors.
“I am using pastels because nobody else does,” he said. “It is underrepresented as a medium and everybody does oil. This afternoon I will do watercolor and … that is the most difficult because you can’t erase, but I love it though.”
Watercolor was the medium of choice for Raleigh artist Parekh, stationed on the south side of Harbor Island under a shade tree at the South Channel Drive mini park with views of Banks Channel.
Parakeh said he participated in three similar events in Southport and these events help artists and customers connect.
“It is the same feel, no pressure, just come and paint,” Parekh said. “It is a great opportunity for people to see our work and for us to hopefully make a sale.”
Parekh said he chose watercolor because he could paint the lighting quickly. His canvas portrayed the morning sun on the sailboats anchored in Banks Channel with the skyline of homes and the Blockade Runner Beach Resort on the opposite shore.
Back on the north side of Harbor Island, local artist Bark’s subject matter was also shaping up with a marsh view and a stately home overlooking Lees Cut.
“I like structures a lot. People say I need to do something other than structures, but I am always drawn to them,” Bark said. “This looks like the quintessential Wrightsville Beach scene.”
The en plein air event was part of a Wrightsville Beach weekend for Bark, who would also participate in the Swim the Loop open water swim the following morning.
Wrightsville Beach Museum of History director Madeline Flagler said the variety of events on the beach Saturday like Swim the Loop, the Brits at the Beach car show and Taste of Wrightsville Beach helped to make the wet paint sale a success.
“We didn’t know what to expect because it was the first time we had done it and the first time it had been done at Wrightsville Beach for a very long time,” Flagler said. “It was a very active Saturday at the beach and it was absolutely gorgeous day in October so I think all of that contributed.”
By the end of the sale Saturday afternoon, around 27 of the paintings were sold, bringing in a gross of more than $6,000 for the event with 30 percent of the profits donated to the museum.
Flagler said there are around 45 paintings from the event that would remain hanging in the museum for sale until Christmas.